The project of affordable public rental housing for young people and the space for the Colla Castellera Jove de Barcelona promoted by the Barcelona Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute, built in the industrial units of the Fabra i Coats factory enclosure in the Sant Andreu del Palomar district, has been selected as a finalist in the 2021 FAD Architecture and Interior Design Prizes, one of Europe’s oldest award packages in this field and one of the most prestigious. Specifically, the project of the architecture studio formed by Miguel Roldán and Mercè Berengué has been praised for finding new opportunities and ways of providing housing in the old factory and for promoting sustainability by using wood in their structures.
In the jury’s words, “the project demonstrates how rehabilitation and conservation of the industrial heritage represent an increasingly important challenge for defining sustainable urban planning, with a brilliant solution for including a housing programme in a 19th-century industrial factory”. The project has also been valued for the common spaces that complete this building of 44 homes for young people aged between 18 and 35. According to the evaluation, “the project not only organises the housing units appropriately but defines as a vertebrating element an interior collective space capable of creating a sense of community”.
Towards a sustainable architecture
In the Architecture category, the jury has highlighted projects that find opportunities in transforming rather than inventing, question ways of providing housing and reflect on the possibilities of building materials and systems.
In this respect, the Can Fabra affordable housing project for young people has been recognised for following the criteria of sustainability, preserving and reusing the original structures and using wood in constructing the homes, a material with a very low environmental impact – a fact which, in the jury’s opinion, gives technical coherence and compositional maturity to an exemplary project capable of creating thermal thresholds which favour the passive functioning of the building”.
The Barcelona Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute favours industrialised techniques like those used at Can Fabra in the tendering process of projects for constructing public housing. These techniques permit reducing the execution time of the works and minimise the environmental impact of the building materials.
The 2021 FAD Architecture Prize is not the only award given to Can Fabra recently. This year the project has also won the first prize for multi-family housing at the AIT-Awards, and last year it received the ’Advanced Architecture Awards 2020 and the 2020 Mapei Prize. In the latter case, the jury awarded the first prize to Can Fabra for being a building that incorporates many positive architectural, social and environmental qualities.